It may sound a bit odd coming from a socialist blog, over the past nine years in government, the SNP have made Scotland, and Scots in general, wealthier. This is not to say that those at the very top are lining their pockets further or using a £50 note to light their gauloises as opposed to a mere £20, rather it is to say that, in general, all Scots have more money in their pockets.
In a country so plagued by poverty as Scotland, I recognise that this is an ongoing issue and that the eradication of poverty is still quite far from complete. With some of our larger cities, such as Glasgow and Dundee, still home to many of the poorest families in Britain, let alone Scotland, there is still a lot that needs to be done.
However, as Scotland becomes wealthier, it becomes easier for us to help those in our most deprived communities, with health and education projects. In making Scotland a wealthier nation, we get on track to being able to do more to help those who need it most, and the SNP have made great progress in making Scotland a wealthier nation for all.
In Scotland, employment rates have continued to climb, with the Scottish rate of employment now the highest in the United Kingdom, with our rates of youth and female employment now higher than the UK as a whole. Typical pay for Scots workers is also higher than that in England, with Scotland championing the Living Wage.
Our young people have benefited from SNP policy too, with more that 186,000 young people having the opportunity to undertake modern apprenticeships since 2007 and another 30,000 places on the way every year by 2020.
For the first time in years, Councils have been enabled to build new council homes, with over 5,000 new council houses built since 2011. Ending the Right to Buy scheme has safeguarded 15,500 social homes for rent, ensuring that those relying on social housing can have somewhere affordable to live.
Around 20,000 families have been supported by the government to buy their own homes through various ownership schemes – around three quarters of buyers were under 35. This gives families who want to buy their own homes the help they need to do so, providing families with a stable and secure family home for years to come.
The tax burden on the sale of homes has also been lessened, with 93% of buyers paying less than they would under UK stamp duty or no tax at all – further helping people onto the property ladder.
In Glasgow and the Clyde valley, £500 million has been invested to stimulate economic growth. This is a huge investment in some of our most deprived areas, helping to create growth and jobs and to lift many families out of poverty. With £125 million invested into economic stimulation in Aberdeen and £254 million investment in infrastructure in the North East, Scotland’s oil capital, as well as a number of deprived areas, will benefit, allowing for the creation of more jobs.
In addition to these investments, £60 million has been put towards town centre regeneration funds, helping to revitalise our town centres, encouraging businesses to open in towns and high streets to boost jobs and grow the local economies.
The SNP has also been working hard to tackle fuel poverty, ensuring that, in a wealthy, oil producing nation, our most vulnerable aren’t having to choose between eating or heating. With half a billion pounds put towards tackling fuel and a third of homes helped so far to improve their energy efficiency, the SNP are making sure that it’s energy prices we’re freezing, not grannies.
Our private businesses are also booming, with the number of private sector businesses in Scotland now at a record high of over 361,000. Productivity in Scotland is up by 4.4% compared to just 0.2% across the UK as well. This has gone a long way to creating jobs and boosting economic growth. On top of this, between 2007 and 2014, our international exports increased by over £7 billion.
Since 2007, spending on research and development has increased by 44%, with enterprise and development spending in Scotland almost double that of the rest of the UK. This is allowing Scotland to lead the way in emerging industries, technology, renewable energy and other crucial areas – all of which are leading to more money going into the economy and the pockets of ordinary Scots.
As a result of this, the Scottish economy has seen three years of growth up to the third quarter of 2015, and this looks set to continue.
Scotland is leading the way in so many areas and the SNP have done a huge amount, helping both our local communities, and the country as a whole. In a time of austerity driven economics imposed by Westminster, the SNP have achieved a great deal in ensuring that ordinary Scots have more money in their pockets and that those at the bottom are being afforded all the help we can give them.
I concede, that there is a great deal still to do in making Scotland a more equal society; where poverty is but a distant memory, where unemployment is unheard of and where everyone has enough to get by and support their families – the road ahead is still a long one. But with the SNP’s record in government since 2007, it is clear to see that they are the party best suited to continue down that road.
So, for a wealthier Scotland, not just for those at the very top, but for everyone who calls this beautiful corner of the world home, it has to be a resounding #BothVotesSNP!